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CNET (stylized as c|net) is a tech media website that publishes news, articles, blogs, and podcasts on technology and consumer electronics. Originally founded in 1994 by Halsey Minor and Shelby Bonnie, it was the flagship brand of CNET Networks and became a brand of CBS Interactive through CNET Networks' acquisition in 2008.[1][2][3][4] CNET originally produced content for radio and television in addition to its website and now uses new media distribution methods through its Internet television network, CNET TV, and its podcast and blog networks.




Logo of CNET Networks prior to acquisition by CBS Interactive

In 1994, with the help from Fox Network co-founder[5] Kevin Wendle and former Disney creative associate Dan Baker,[6] CNET produced four pilot television programs about computers, technology, and the Internet. CNET TV was composed of CNET Central, The Web, and The New Edge.[7][8]CNET Central was created first and aired in syndication in the United States on the USA Network. Later, it began airing on USA's sister network Sci-Fi Channel along with The Web and The New Edge.[7] These were later followed by in 1996. Current American Idol host Ryan Seacrest first came to national prominence at CNET, as the host of The New Edge and doing various voice-over work for CNET.[9]

In addition, CNET produced another television technology news program called that aired on CNBC beginning in 1999.[6]

From 2001 to 2003, CNET operated CNET Radio on the Clear Channel-owned KNEW (910) in the San Francisco Bay Area, WBPS (890) in Boston and on XM Satellite Radio. CNET Radio offered technology-themed programming. After failing to attract a sufficient audience, CNET Radio ceased operating in January 2003 due to financial losses.[10]

Acquisitions and expansions

As CNET Networks, the site made various acquisitions to expand its reach across various web platforms, regions, and markets.

CNET acquired the Swiss-based company GDT in 1997. GDT was later renamed to CNET Channel.[6] In 1998, CNET granted the right to Asiacontent to set up CNET Asia and the operation was brought back in December 2000.[11][12]

In January 2000, the same time CNET became CNET Networks, they acquired comparison shopping site mySimon for $700 million.[13]

In October 2000, CNET Networks acquired ZDNet for approximately $1.6 billion.[14][15] In January 2001, Ziff Davis Media, Inc. reached an agreement with CNET Networks, Inc. to regain the URLs lost in the 2000 sale of Ziff Davis, Inc. to SoftBank Corp. a publicly traded Japanese media and technology company.[16] In April 2001, CNET acquired TechRepublic Inc., which provides content for IT professionals from Gartner, Inc., for $23 million in cash and stock.[17] On July 14, 2004, CNET announced that it would acquire Webshots, the leading photography website for $70 million ($60 million in cash, $10 million in deferred consideration).[18]

In July 2004, CNET Networks acquired Webshots, an online photo sharing site for $70 million.[19] However, in October 2007, they sold Webshots to American Greetings for $45 million[20]

On March 1, 2007, CNET announced the public launch of BNET, a website targeted towards business managers. BNET was launched in 2005 in beta form.[21]

On May 15, 2008 it was announced that CBS Corporation would buy CNET Networks for US$1.8 billion.[2][22][23] On June 30, 2008, the acquisition was completed.[24] Former CNET properties are now part of CBS Interactive. CBS Interactive now owns many domain names originally created by CNET Networks, including,,,,,,,,,,,, and In addition CNET currently has region-specific portals for Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, South-East Asia, Turkey, Taiwan, and UK.


In 2011, CNET and CBS Interactive were sued by a coalition of artists (led by FilmOn founder Alki David) for copyright infringement by promoting the download of LimeWire, a popular peer to peer downloading software.[25] [26] Although the original suit was voluntarily dropped by Alki David he vowed to sue at a later date to bring "expanded"[27] action against CBS Interactive. In November 2011, another lawsuit against CBS Interactive was introduced, claiming that CNet and CBS Interactive knowingly distributed LimeWire, the file sharing software.[28]

In 1998, CNET was sued by Snap Technologies for its use of the domain.[29]

Logo of CNET 2008-2011, the original logo used from its inception in 1994 to 2008 is now in use again.
Logo of CNET 2008-2011, the original logo used from its inception in 1994 to 2008 is now in use again.
In 2005, Google blacklisted all CNET reporters for an entire year [30][31] after CNET published Google's CEO Eric Schmidt's salary, named the neighborhood where he lives, some of his hobbies and political donations.[32] All the information had been gleaned from Google searches.

On October 11, 2006, Shelby Bonnie resigned as chairman and CEO as a result of stock options backdating scandal that occurred between 1996 and 2003. Neil Ashe was named as the new CEO.[33]

CNET's CEO and two other executives resigned [34] in 2006 because of a options backdating scandal which caused the firm to restate its financial earnings over 1996 through 2003 for $105 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission later dropped an investigation into the practice.[35]

CNET got in trouble in 2007 after it was revealed by former Gamespot editors that CNET corporate staff had directed the firing of a Gamespot editor. Furthermore, CNET was involved in altering the strict editorial policies that Gamespot and CNET reviewing staff once had. Indeed, CNET was considered complicit in its support of products regardless of their quality.

Some software applications freely downloadable from the internet are also offered for download by CNET. Some of these "CNET versions" are actually wrapped inside other applications that install other pieces of software, for which the user has to specifically opt out, and the opt-out option is not clearly or immediately visible.[36] sections

CNET is divided into five major sections: reviews, news and blogs (, downloads, CNET TV, and How To. The Reviews section of the site is the largest part of the site, and generates over 4,300 product and software reviews per year. The Reviews section also features Editors Choice Awards, which recognize products that are particularly innovative and of the highest quality.

CNET News (formerly known as, launched in 1996, is a news website dedicated to technology, and was one of the first news sources to help define technology reporting in the age of the internet. CNET News has won several prestigious awards, including the National Magazine award. Content is created by both CNET and external media agencies as news articles and blogs, including Webware (Web 2.0 topics) and Crave (gadgets).

With a catalog of more than 400,000 titles, the Downloads section of the website allows users to download popular software, generating approximately 3.5 million downloads per day. CNET provides Windows, Macintosh and mobile software for download. CNET maintains that this software is free of spyware. The site also offers free MP3 music files for download (mostly by independent artists), however recently, the music section of the site is now merged with This meant that all the music downloads were deleted without warning.[37]

CNET TV is CNET's Internet video channel offering a selection of on-demand video content including video reviews, first looks and special features. CNET TV plays various videos, including CNET video reviews. CNET editors such as Molly Wood, Brian Cooley and Brian Tong host shows like Car Tech, Buzz Report, Quick Tips, CNET Top 5, Loaded, The Apple Byte, Digital City, The Digital Home, Inside CNET Live, Mail Bag, video prizefights, and others, as well as special reports and reviews. On April 12, 2007, CNET TV aired its first episode of CNET LIVE, hosted by Brian Cooley and Tom Merritt. The first episode featured Justin Kan of[38][39]

Officially launched August 2011, How To is the learning area of CNET providing tutorials, guides and tips for technology users.


In December 2006, James Kim, an editor at CNET, died in the Oregon wilderness. CNET hosted a memorial show and podcasts dedicated to him.


External links

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